• Sharon Starkey

[Guest Post] As Fate Would Have It: How Autism Changed the Course of My Life by Katie Peterson

Who am I? My name is Katie Tisch Peterson and I am 32 years old, originally from Brooklyn, New York. In this blog post I want to share a little bit about how Autism has always been a part of my journey through life so that in future blog posts, anyone reading will know the origins of why I feel a deep desire to make a difference for those on the autism spectrum and their loved ones. 

The one dream I have held onto my entire life was that no matter how I did it, I would make the world a better place. During my undergrad years at Arizona State University, I loved to volunteer, specifically bringing art to children in group homes, domestic violence shelters, and residential treatment facilities with a non-profit called Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona. One other fateful thing came from that experience that I wasn't expecting. I wound up being offered a job through an agency that was paid for by the Division of Developmental Disabilities where I worked with several Autistic children very successfully over the course of 5 years. My kindness and patience combined with my willingness to learn made me connect instantly with the children I worked with. At my graduation ceremony, one of the main speakers happened to be Temple Grandin (who is one of the first people on the autism spectrum to share her insights about her personal experiences being on the spectrum, is currently a faculty member with Animal Sciences in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University, and in 2010 had a biographical motion picture about her called Temple Grandin, with Claire Danes playing the role of Temple) which I found ironic at the time).

Years later I would look back and be able to see, my course had been charted all along; obviously some part of my purpose in life is to help people either directly by working with people on the spectrum...but what else? I was not totally sure. After moving around the country, everywhere I went I found myself working with children and/or adults with Autism and being very successful. In 2019, I wound up becoming a job coach for adults with disabilities shortly after being told that the man I had recently married might also be on the Autism spectrum. When it hit me, I felt like a total idiot—how could I not have seen it in my own husband after all that time?


For a while, my job coaching helped me to understand my husband better and my husband helped me to understand my clients better. Before I knew it though, I ran into some very awful people currently serving the DD community plus working 60 hrs a week as a job coach (where I successfully got more than a few people their first jobs AND jobs that they actually liked/are still at to my knowledge) plus my part-time job on top of that, I was completely running on empty. I decided to take a step back and rediscover my own identity. I began a blog about my neurodiverse marriage, which, like many other blogs on the same subject, started exciting and fizzled out pretty quickly. I withdrew from all social situations and got a job working from home taking customer service calls, which was a little bitter sweet being that I had spent so much on my education. I found my spirituality and began doing tarot/oracle card readings and spiritual life coaching, which is a great side hustle for extra money while being fulfilling to me. 

After I had helped my husband to get officially diagnosed, the road toward acceptance was not an easy thing. The day that we came home from that official answer to our question, I told my husband that he and I were meant to help other people in this world somehow and that maybe we would find a way to help other adults on the spectrum. Since then, I have helped my husband to get started on his dream of earning a Bachelor’s degree online through Full Sail University (please see the future blog post about Full Sail as I feel they are a PERFECT school for anyone on the spectrum!). My husband also has a blog that was added to the list of Actually Autistic blogs. Most recently, I have been working on my idea for a podcast where neurotypical spouses can share insights, stories, advice, and support while being able to join the conversation themselves plus we could do polls, answer questions, interview professionals in the field, and hear insights from ASD spouses as well.  My ultimate dream would be to have a successful podcast that I can monetize so that proceeds can go to Autism Vision of Colorado for all they do for our community.

The second part of my dream is to develop a line of bath products, soaps, lotions, bath bombs, candles, body spray and more for spouses and/or caregivers of people with sensory issues that still smell great but won’t overpower, also with a part of the proceeds of my sensory-friendly store to go to Autism nonprofits, awareness, research and programs focused on inclusion. In the future, my husband and I would love to work our way toward hosting a support group for neurodiverse couples. According to the National Autism Association, approximately 1 in 54 children in the United States is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder with boys being four times more likely to be diagnosed with Autism than girls. These boys will eventually become men and seek a spouse like anyone else; so we have come up with the name for our podcast: Partners of the Spectrum aka POTS – because there’s a lid for every pot. The tagline there is inspired by a saying my Nana always would mention when it came to how people fall in love/find each other. I am dedicated to finding a way to provide more support to those in relationships with an ASD spouse but more importantly, a way for us all to find gratitude from our pain, and begin to foster a community of positivity and support. 

To get involved with the podcast please email me at potspodcast2020@gmail.com

To visit my website: Downtherabbitholelifecoaching.net

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